The Me in My Stories

Like most authors at one time or another, I have been accused of allowing personal biases to bleed into my stories and infect the narrative. My characters spout witticisms suspiciously like my own. The subtext attacks issues I find distasteful. I am less an author and more a living agenda with an eye for plot contrivances.

To which I usually reply: authors, despite what you may think, are not the books they write. Stephen King is not a bloodthirsty maniac. J.K. Rowling is not a wizard. Bill O’Reilly is not a learned historian. Just because my characters espouse a point of view does not mean I hold the same position.

That’s kind of a crock though, isn’t it? Of course my stories wield my views and interests. If I weren’t interested in something, I wouldn’t write a story about it.

But how much of “me” exists in my books? Could someone read them and actually know me? I’ve read most of King’s works, and I’d be surprised if he turned out to be in favour of, say, religious home schooling. A reader of Orson Scott Card’s major works would likely never form the opinion that this writer of brilliant science fiction is also, sadly, a fierce and very vocal opponent of homosexual rights.

So, let’s do a checklist on some of the themes that have cropped up thus far in my career:

·         Literacy is important.

·         Fanaticism is to be mistrusted and discouraged.

·         Religious arguments should be treated with suspicion.

·         Disease is terrifying.

·         Authority figures should be questioned.

·         Unearned celebrity is soulless and demeaning.

·         Everyone has an agenda.

·         Love is real.

·         Obsession is dangerous.

·         Ignorance is not a virtue.

·         We don’t know everything.

·         Nothing should be considered so serious or sacred that we can’t joke about it.

·         Obscenities are good.

Some of these themes were intentional. Some only came to light after I had completed the manuscript. Doubtless there are others people could point out. No one writes in a vacuum; the world eventually seeps in.

But is this cobbled-together Redekop the real Redekop? Hard to argue I don’t hold all of these views, and many more besides. Fanatics of every stripe scare the hell out of me. Religious viewpoints creeping into government angers me. I swear constantly. I completely agree with Isaac Asimov’s warning: “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”

So is it me, or is it Memorex?

In person, I emit a clean pine scent. On the page, I smell like printers’ ink and silverfish.

In person, I display an awe-inspiringly thick head of hair so fertile you can actually hear it grow. In my books, my visage is freeze-framed for eternity, short hair and all.

In person, my views somewhat change over time, based on experiences, conversations, and whatnot. In print, my opinions are trapped in ember.

Maybe that’s the difference. I change, but my books don’t. There is a natural evolution in everything I write; I adapt and change to better thrive in my surroundings. Once on paper, however, that Corey becomes a fixed point in time. That Corey is not this one. The one you’re reading right now, that Corey no longer exists.

That’ll be my answer from now on, methinks. Oh, that Corey, the one you’re infuriated with? He won’t be bothering you any longer; he’s lost in the ether, trapped in the space-time continuum.

This Corey? Oh, he’s going to annoy the living hell out of you. Strap in, he’s got a whole new bag of tricks.